The Brighter Futures project was developed and informed by a 4-year programme of work which provided evidence on mental health in later life. An Initial inquiry based research project was undertaken in partnership with Age Concern (now Age UK) and more recently in 2007-2009 service improvement activities were undertaken in partnership with NHS Health Scotland and the large number of key stakeholders forming NHS Health Scotland’s later life steering group.
These activities included work with 15 Community Health Partnerships. This work directly engaged upwards of 1,000 older people in Scotland and provided further understanding of the key issues effecting mental health in later life.
Consistent themes that emerged were:
- Age discrimination
- Physical health and mobility
- Lack of meaningful opportunities to make an active contribution to society.
(Age Concern & Mental Health Foundation, 2006; NHS Health Scotland, 2009)
This work has sat alongside and complemented the strategic work of NHS Health Scotland and the Scottish government on developments such as ‘All our Futures’, ‘Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland’ and the EU Healthy Ageing Strategy (Scottish Executive, 2007; Scottish Government, 2010).
During these activities it became apparent that there were large numbers of older people who were missing from these discussions and were therefore unable to have their voices heard, older people who are living their lives trapped in their own homes with little or no social support networks or links to the wider community. This significant gap has framed the development of Brighter Futures and informed the approach of peer mentoring.
In developing solutions to these challenges older people told us that it was important to take account of the contribution they could make as well as their potential support needs. In shaping Brighter Futures we felt that it was vital that we acknowledged that although there is much to do in relation to designing effective services for older people, there is also a steadily increasing number of older people, mainly retired from paid work, who are able to contribute actively to society – a strength not a ‘burden’.
The principle aim of Brighter Futures has therefore been:
To work with older people to deliver a peer mentoring service aimed at improving the wellbeing and the quality of lives of more isolated older people through enhancing their social networks and enabling meaningful community engagement.
A-Z Topic: Mental health in later life
As we get older, changes in our lives such as retirement, bereavement or physical illness can affect our mental health.
Publication: How to look after your mental health in later life
We have produced this booklet for people in their 60s who are approaching retirement or who have recently retired from work. We must take care of ourselves mentally and physically during this significant change.